You don't have to be a vegan to like this dish. You do have to like lentils.

I've incorporated zucchini into the sauce and then served it over traditional spaghetti, but as an alternative you could use shredded carrot in the sauce and then serve it over zucchini noodles ("zoodles").

If you don't like lentils, but would like to become more comfortable with them, try making a batch of regular meat bolognese and a half batch of this lentil bolognese, and then mix them together. It will add peppery notes to your bolognese without being too "lentily" for a beginner.


  • ¾ cup raw green lentils
  • 1 onion
  • 3 tbsp. oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, finely diced (use more if you prefer more heat)
  • 1 small zucchini (or half a large zucchini), grated
  • 4 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 3 cups crushed tomatoes
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup red wine (sweet or dry both work)
  • 1 tbsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp. sugar (honey or coconut sugar are both fine too)
  • 2 tsp. oregano
  • 1-2 tsp. kosher salt
  • black pepper (optional)


  1. Place the lentils in a pot with at least 4 cups cold water. Cover tightly and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook until lentils are cooked through but still firm, approximately 20-30 minutes. Check a few before you decide they are ready, since they don't all cook at the same pace. Drain and set aside.
  2. Cut the onion into very thin quarter rounds. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and sauté the onion until just beginning to turn brown.
  3. Add the crushed garlic and finely diced jalapeno pepper and cook for another few minutes while stirring to ensure the garlic doesn't stick and burn.
  4. Add the grated zucchini and stir until zucchini wilts and shrinks down.
  5. Add the tomato paste and cook while stirring for 1-2 minutes.
  6. Add all the remaining ingredients, including the lentils, and simmer for approximately 20 minutes.
  7. Check salt and adjust to taste. Add a sprinkle of black pepper if you'd like. Green lentils have a strong peppery flavor, so you may not wish to add additional black pepper.
  8. Serve over spaghetti.
  9. Optional: Garnish with dairy or vegan parmesan. To make vegan parmesan, use ¾ cup raw cashews, 3 tbsp. nutritional yeast, ¼ tsp. garlic powder, ½ tsp. kosher salt. Blitz together in a food processor or blender until texture resembles crumbs. Stores well in the fridge for weeks.

Serves: 8